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Album Reviews : Children of Bodom – Halo of Blood

By on December 11, 2013

Children of Bodom are a band that hearken me back to the nostalgic times of my high school years; impetuous, impudent and immature, and Bodom played a huge part in the soundtrack to that arc of my life. However, it also stood as a sort of epitaph; whilst I still recall, and enjoy, a lot of Bodom’s back catalogue, it was one of the few bands I never carried with me into later years, with Blooddrunk being the tombstone.  What is the point of this little pre-amble? Well, aside from making myself feel interminably old, it is something of a statement that the things we loved before aren’t the same that we love now; Children of Bodom is my prime example of that in the sense that it took one album to turn me off a band, not because it reminded me of times past, but because I felt I had outgrown it. A selection of tracks from Follow the Reaper, and even Are You Dead Yet?, remain, to this day, on my playlist and a number of self-professed fans tend to agree with me that Blooddrunk and Relentless Reckless Forever marked a significant low point in the band’s, hitherto, great discography. Upon accepting this review, I went into Halo of Blood with little to no expectations; only for this album to remind me why I liked Bodom, and love metal.

Children of Bodom are back, with 2013’s Halo of Blood and I can, unashamedly say that this album is excellent! Bodom have always been a band that encapsulated a certain air of angst and anger and showed it, unabashedly, in tracks filled with unmistakable energy that, to quote a friend of mine “Simultaneously wrung your neck and punched you in the brain”. Whist the absence of that same ferocity and power was noticed, terminally so, in their two most recent albums, it is abundant here in Halo, but with a little something more. The album carries a darker, more intimidating (dare I say Threatening) undercurrent to it, immediately recognizable as Bodom but singularly different.

The opening track Waste of Skin instantly rang with the familiar tone and melody that the band has always conveyed, from intro to verse almost a textbook Bodom song; completely thrash-worthy but nothing special, only for it to be kicked into full gear by one hell of a driving pre-chorus and pushed just that bit further by intense vocals and some truly vicious atmosphere to it. I was suitably impressed…then the title track came on. Remember the part where I mentioned that there was certain darkness to these tracks? (How couldn’t you? I only mentioned it last paragraph!) Well, here’s where Children of Bodom drive a truckload of it, right into your face! Appropriating the Black Metal staples of blast beats and discordant guitars, punctuated by Laiho’s signature vocal aggression and Bodom’s overall tone, Halo of Blood did not let up for a moment. It was this point where I crossed “Suitably” off of my notes and replaced it with “Definitely”; and the album wasn’t even getting started.

This album comes at you and just keeps on coming! From tracks like Your Days are Numbered to the, admittedly strange, I supposed you’d call “ballad” Dead Man’s Hand on You, this album will immediately grab your attention and keep it. There is a subtle evolution to this band that can be noticed in the tracks, keeping in touch with its roots and brashly lashing out into some unexplored territory. Juxtaposing two tracks off of the album: Damaged Beyond Repair, a heavy and relentless beast of a song, against Sleeping in My Car, which I can describe as better than Fun, are the best instances of what makes this album well worth the listen. Damaged pokes along with a hefty weight, interposed with technical flourishes which sounds instantly fresh to Bodom’s milieu; one could almost go so far as to call it novel; where as Sleeping is almost juvenile, in the vastly positive sense that it is absolutely clear that the band were having fun in working on these tracks, a throwback to their audacity and feels nostalgic as all hell. It’s a Bodom song, pure and true.

There is something new here on offer from Bodom, in Halo of Blood, and it is, at once refreshing, and totally engrossing, all the while maintaining its familiarity. If you were once a fan of Children of Bodom, then this will likely be the kick in the head you needed to get back into them, and if you were already a fan then this album will give you something extra to take pleasure in. When Children of Bodom hit our shores in 2014 it will be this album that clinched my decision to go to the show, and if they play Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming) you better believe I will be there, thrashing away.

I wholeheartedly recommend Halo of Blood, for any metal lover looking for a distinct and crushing collection of songs; a true juggernaut of an album!

Band: Children of Bodom
Album: Halo of Blood
Year: 2013
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Origin: Finland

Track listing:
1. Waste of Skin
2. Halo of Blood
3. Scream for Silence
4. Transference
5. Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming)
6. Your Days Are Numbered
7. Dead Man’s Hand on You
8. Damaged Beyond Repair
9. All Twisted
10. One Bottle And A Knee Deep
11. Crazy Nights
12. Sleeping in my Car

About

Hailing from parts unknown (actually, it’s Melbourne), Tristan is a freelance writer and lover of metal, with a special place in his heart for Power and Folk metal. After playing in a number of local Melbourne metal bands, and completing his Bachelor of Arts, Tristan focuses his attention to the pursuit of writing, practicing the Liechtenauer School of swordsmanship, dabbling in Cosplay and reciting Babylon 5 quotes; in addition to hunting for a publisher for his novel. Until then, he enjoys metal, writing about metal and convincing people around his office that he is immortal and has lived for 3,000 years. (So far only the chick in HR is buying it)